Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Smallest Hope

Maybe you are like me and you find yourself longing for more.
More peace.
More comfort.
More strength.
More joy.
.......just more good.

I recognize it in the eyes of others as well.


As I live each day I learn more and more that God chooses to allow things that boggle my mind.

I am challenged to believe that His ways are not just above my ways. His ways are usually in a different galaxy.  He works in such mystery that sometimes I don't see Him at all.

Since February our family has been trying to work through an enormous loss.

We miss Shep's parents so deeply.
We lost them 18 days apart.
It still does not seem remotely real.  Except for the fact that weeks and months have gone by and I haven't heard their voices.

Several things have happened where I instinctively picked up my phone to call his mom or send her a picture.

And then...reality hits with a fresh wave...and loss takes your breath away again.

Meanwhile I have friends walking through loss as well.

Serious and severe loss.

Just like me they are longing for the world that seemed steady beneath their feet just 6 months ago.

We didn't know then what was waiting on us....

I love that God made us not just to serve Him but to serve and love others as well.

But, as you know, loving and serving others means opening yourself to feeling what they feel.

I am finding that the best way to be a friend is to jump into their pool of pain.  You may not have an answer but your presence alone can cheer and comfort.

All of this my life and in the lives of those I love is about more than I can stand.

Surely the Lord knows I have reached my limit.

But do we really have one?

A limit, I mean.

Is that weird that I would even assume that?

My mind can drift back and recall my heroes of the faith.

I would have sworn that their personal limit of pain was reached way before any change occurred.

Abraham was called to leave.  Everything.  Pick up and go to a destination he would be told.

Most of us would say that calling alone was enough to stress a man to his limit.

This was only the beginning for Abraham.

How about Daniel?

He was taken captive early in life.

I mean if I were kidnapped and taken to a different country then I am not sure I would think my journey with faith was just beginning.  I would think that surely the climax has happened.

He received such a compliment from God that his suffering was personally appointed.

He lost money and fortune.
He lost children.
He lost his health.
I wonder if he thought he had even lost his mind?
He lost time.
He lost his dream.

Yet....he did not lose God.

Faith must be chosen.  Over and over.

Salvation is not the same as daily faith.

I smile at a lot of people that I would call brothers and sisters in Christ that are sealed and saved by having placed their faith in  Jesus.

I know far less than that who are willing to wait, hope, believe, endure suffering, ridicule, pain, heartache, betrayal and loss and STILL boast of a fruitful and joyful faith.

This is not a pious attempt at judgement.  I get it.

Following Jesus through deep pain and loss is gut-wrenching.

If you are like me you look toward heaven and think, "you could stop this." 

So my best guess as a fellow traveler through this world is that there is not a limit to pain.

There is a parallel to pain though.

Grace has no limit.
Mercy is continually new.
Love abounds.
Light (even a sliver of it) can shatter the darkness.
And hope is the beacon that never quits calling us.

My husband and I have been waiting, believing, hoping for God to do the miracle He has told us He will do: heal our daughter.

This June will be 14 years.

If you are calling me an idiot I don't really blame you.

Pretty sure I would give myself that label.

But hope cries out to me even louder.

I would have told you that I reached my pain and sadness limit years ago.

Turns out~ I was wrong.

God knew he would be growing me in grit.  A strength would emerge to surprise even me.

Let me encourage you with the words of Isaiah.  Some of you, like me, are hanging on to the smallest hope....

"Look at my servant, whom I strengthen.  He is my chosen one, and I am pleased with him.  I have put my Spirit upon him.  He will reveal justice to the nations.  He will be gentle- he will not shout or raise his voice in public.  He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope...." Is.42:1-3

These beautiful words were written about our Jesus long before he ever came to this world.  But his purpose was clear.  He would come to bring the Spirit of God to a dying world.

But He doesn't stop with salvation. Although he certainly could.

He is especially attentive to those who are weak and have the smallest hope.

That would be me.

Maybe that is you too.

I will choose even the smallest hope over no hope at all.

Oh Father help me to walk in the fullness of joy you have for me.  Pain is all around and some days I feel smothered underneath it. I repent of apathy and laziness to fight for my faith. You came to this earth and endured pain and suffering.  You say to me that I can have full faith in the midst of heartache.  Please help me with that.  Also help me to love and serve those around me that are struggling as well.  We want grit and stubbornness in our faith.  Help us to choose it when it feels absurd to do so.  You are so worth it.  You are faithful.  Make us worthy to live out this righteousness for your Name's sake.  I love you Jesus. Amen.